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Great Chess Player's Gallery. Alechin. 6

Alekhine on Carlsbad, 1929

Edward Winter


Alexander Alekhine

During the Carlsbad, 1929 tournament the world champion, Alexander Alekhine, wrote six reports for the New York Times, and the full texts are given below. Some of the language is unusual, and there is, for instance, occasional confusion over the terms game, match and tournament.


Article 1/6: New York Times, 1 August 1929, pages 21 and 23:

‘CARLSBAD, July 31. For the fourth time since 1907 the elite of the world’s chess talent is gathered here under the direction of that veteran master, Victor Tietz, for a stubborn four weeks’ combat. For the fourth time the chess world will follow the progress of the battle with the keenest anticipation, and after mature judgment will render its verdict on the results recorded.

The world-wide interest manifested in this masters’ tournament is wholly justified. Not only has it been organized on a generous scale – there will be 22 contestants – but it immediately precedes the new match for the world’s championship.

It also promises to develop into a determined battle between the adherents of two schools opposed in their fundamental interpretation of the essence of chess. One group is represented by the former world’s champion, José Capablanca of Cuba, who in addition to being a devotee of 64 squares is also fond of tennis and other physical sports. With him are two engineers, Géza Maróczy of Hungary and Dr M. Vidmar of Yugoslavia; the mathematician, Dr Max Euwe of Holland, and that well-known explorer of chess variations E. Grünfeld of Vienna.

For them the “what” of chess is more important than the “how”. Victory to them is the sole aim of the game. Only in rare instances, when their creative instinct masters their sporting will, do they become interested in the “quality”, and it then asserts itself in the practical application of scientific chess experience.

The outcome of the rejection of the creative aspects of chess could easily be foreseen. It resulted in the school of reformists, led by Capablanca, who feared that theory, highly developed, might result in a paralysis of the game and they therefore sought to revivify it through propagating a revision of the rules of play. Now, just what does this postulation mean?

First, an overestimation of the force of theory in a utilitarian sense.

Second, a disregard for the intuitive – the imaginative – and all those other elements which raise chess to the level of an art.

Third, it results in a general “shallowing” of the creative performance.

To just such a deadening level the reformist school, these pseudo-scientists, would reduce the noble game of chess, but fortunately there prevails a stronger oppositional force which first asserted itself in the play of Breyer and Réti, whose premature deaths were a distinct loss to the chess world. As representatives in the present Carlsbad tournament of their interpretation we name E.D. Bogoljubow of Russia, A. Nimzowitsch of Denmark, Dr S. Tartakower of France, E. Canal of Peru, F. Sämisch of Germany and E. Colle of Belgium.

These masters have succeeded in demonstrating that even in the realm of the newest theoretical accomplishments there still remains plenty of scope for the development of the imagination, temperament and will-power. To their achievements the game of chess, since the war, owes its unexpected advance.

One could fitly designate this group as the “neo-romanticists”, and they have been referred to as such, but they might also justly be called the “tragedians of chess” because, while the reformist will greet the mistakes of his opponent in a utilitarian sense, the neo-romanticist desires to carry his grand scheme to completion.

Right here enters that moment when the art of chess may be called the most tragic of all arts, because the chess artist, in a measure, is dependent on an element outside the scope of his power; that element is the hostile co-workers who through carelessness constantly threaten to wreck a flawless mental edifice. The chessplayer who aspires to demonstrate the “how” of the game will view the single point scored a poor offset for the failure to gratify his artistic yearnings.

His bent for creating often results in disappointments, but in the end the passion is victorious, and it is only due to the sacrificing powers of many enlightened chess talents, because their creative leanings have foregone professional careers, that the chess world will be freed of the superstitution [sic] of the reformists. Chess is not football.

Between the two groups of contenders for prize money in the Carlsbad tournament we also would mention the so-called “classicists”, primarily Akiba Rubinstein of Poland, then that apostle of the king’s pawn, Rudolph [sic] Spielmann of Austria, and last, but not least, the gifted but erratic American champion, Frank Marshall.

I met Mr Marshall and his wife in Paris a few days ago, and the sight of this impetuous, expectant warrior hastening to the battle arena filled me with a momentary jealousy and a regret that I was not to participate in the greatest post-War tournament since that of Moscow in 1925. But the rank of a world champion often demands abstention from the lust of battle.

Only eight days after the conclusion of the Carlsbad tourney I shall be called upon to defend my title. The challenger is no less a person than Bogoljubow, victor of the Moscow and Kissingen tourneys. Consideration for himself apparently did not prevent this grand master from entering the lists at Carlsbad, and in this connection the following must be taken into account: a challenger has much less to risk than the defender of the title.


Efim Bogoljubow

Bogoljubow says he welcomes such active training before his match with me as this tourney imposes. It will soon be demonstrated who is right, Bogoljubow with his reckless optimism or I in my determination to husband my powers by practice and a rigid abstention on this occasion. Will Bogoljubow be the victor in the Carlsbad event? Let us consider the chances all round. We already have named the chief contenders. It is not in the cards that a dark horse like Dr K. Treybal of Czechoslovakia, Karl Gilg of Germany or P. Johner of Switzerland or a newcomer like Miss Vera Menchik of Russia will carry off first honors, although they each will furnish a sturdy combat.

Will that very superior technician Capablanca turn the trick? His victory would, at least, mean a great gain for chess, for nobody can reach the top in such a world tournament with only drawn games to his credit. He would have to abandon his morbid theories. Or will Bogoljubow succeed for a third time in bowling over the former world champion?

In addition to these two favorites, two other grand masters must be reckoned with, A. Nimzowitsch of Denmark, who, after his failure at Kissingen, will make a determined effort to prove he still belongs to the elected few, and the young Dutchman Euwe, who impresses me with his briskness and learning.

Soon, very soon, the race will be past. In any event, a great spectacle awaits the chess world.’

Article 2/6: New York Times, 20 August 1929, pages 21 and 24:

‘CARLSBAD, Aug. 19. The development of a chess tournament and its sporting results usually depend in a large measure on the pace wherewith the tourney gets under way. The initial contests usually influence the disposition and humor of the combatants. In this respect the first five rounds of the Carlsbad tournament were symptomatic.

This tournament afforded the spectacle of a man winning five games running or scoring 100 per cent. He is a player who, despite his long and in part brilliant tournament experience in recent years, perhaps has been slightly underestimated. He did not win through the inattention or errors of his opponents but by virtue of precise and determined mental effort. On the other hand, we witnessed in the course of these opening rounds how a hot favorite in this pace failed to win any games, although there were several minor strong players among his opponents.

Now how are these surprises to be explained? So far as Spielmann is concerned, it is well known that this sensitive artist is capable of top notch performances, but also that when he is not in form he can disappoint most grievously. One need only to recall his brilliant victory in the Semmering tournament of 1926 and then again his finishing last in the former Carlsbad tournament. The chess world, therefore, viewed him as a man of momentary successes, a prejudice which was wholly conceivable, for only those who have pursued his play in a long series of tournaments can arrive at a correct appraisal of his present unexpected series of victories.

He has had to conquer errors of a sporting nature as well as such as have to do with chess. As an artist he is impelled by an impetuous passion for combinations which, although they have earned him a number of brilliancy prizes, have also lost him many an important point in tournament scores. A tendency to explore all tactical details of his repertory of openings is characteristic of his play. He opened almost exclusively with his king’s pawn, which inevitably resulted in the clarification of the most important battleground of chess, viz.: the centre. While this may have injected an outward element of liveliness into the early stages of his game it nevertheless also resulted in a lessening of the more real tension.


Rudolf Spielmann

Spielmann’s principal sporting shortcoming as a chessmaster consisted in a slightly exaggerated good-naturedness which at times could not be distinguished from indifference. This was conspicuous in his drawn games in New York in 1927, where he tossed away winning prospects in decidedly superior positions.

He is also obsessed with idiosyncrasies with respect to some of his colleagues. For instance, up to a year ago he could not picture himself in the position of winning even a single game against Capablanca. His scores against Bogoljubow were also of an extremely moderate calibre.

Now what has remained of these shortcomings in tournament play? Spielmann will always remain an attacking player but he is now building up his attack on a fundamentally sound basis. In the place of a wild King’s Gambit or a speculative Viennese Opening, he has up to now adopted the more sedate Queen’s Pawn Opening in the Carlsbad tournament.

The Austrian also appears to be cured of his former attacks of “stage fright”. Last year in the Kissingen tournament he administered a decisive defeat to Capablanca. In the present Carlsbad tournament Spielmann apparently need not be in a hurry to accept draws because, according to the rules of play, a game may not be abandoned as undecided before the 45th move unless the tournament committee approves of a draw because the position has become hopelessly deadlocked.

In view of all this the prerequisites for another conspicuous success by Spielmann are available. This impression is strengthened when one considers the form in which some of his competitors have been playing, above all Capablanca. So far as the latter is concerned, it must be noted that his indifferent start is nothing unusual – one need only to recall Moscow in 1925 and New York in 1924. It will also not have a decisive bearing on the finish of the tournament because the Cuban master has been known to play the final spurt in a lively and energetic style. He will be among the first four in Carlsbad.

It is the quality of Capablanca’s games, however, that suggests comment. He shows a fighting spirit and a wealth of ideas all right, but one is compelled to note a certain tactical insecurity. In Moscow, for instance, Capablanca did not take pains to win against strong opponents, he rather contented himself with tedious, symmetrical variations of his Queen’s Gambit. In Carlsbad on the other hand he was determined to win against Rubinstein and Bogoljubow; he combined, even exposed himself to certain risks, and yet did not succeed. Against Thomas he even drifted into a very tight corner; Thomas might have won.

Bogoljubow’s play up to now makes a rather weak impression, which might also be said of Euwe. Vidmar, who is rector of the University of Laibach, has of late years been heavily engaged professionally, but hopes to show better form in the coming rounds. Nimzowitsch also has been playing unevenly. Alongside of several colorless draws he succeeded in winning his game against Bogoljubow, which must be counted as one of the most significant incidents of the tournament thus far.

This particular game is indicative of the modern conception of the beautiful in chess. It is distinguished by logical purity of structure, apparent in the visibility of means applied, complete unity in the profundity of a winning combination – elements which in an aesthetic sense impress the connoisseur much more than the outward effects of some of his former pyrotechnic finales. It is not improbable that we shall witness further games of this calibre in the course of the tournament.’

Article 3/6: New York Times, 21 August 1929, page 21:

‘CARLSBAD, Aug. 20. – The sixth and seventh rounds of the grandmasters’ chess tourney, which still is being played here, were not distinguished by any animation. This is accounted for on the ground that favorites are conserving their strength for the final spurt and also because they probably want to size up the various newcomers in this tournament.

With the exception of Rudolph [sic] Spielmann of Austria, whose chances of victory at this stage are becoming more evident, the play of Dr M. Vidmar of Yugoslavia deserves mention. His style may be characterized as “robust”, which also applies to his personality.

His conception of chess is both simple and sound and his very plain, yet highly effective style of play may be described as follows: In the opening he invariably seeks to obtain the initiative, that is, he aims to gain both time and space even at the cost of sacrifice. When he plays the black pieces, on the other hand, he is content to establish a safe defensive position, which he then endeavours to convert into a draw when opposed by players of equal strength.

The weaker opponents he seeks to entice into unsound sacrifice attacks. In this connection he reveals a concealed characteristic which not infrequently enables him to win. He has a certain good-natured rustic slyness characteristic of his Slovene countrymen. All told he is, perhaps, no lion in the realm of chess, but he is highly dangerous to those who permit themselves to be intimidated by his apparent harmlessness. He was the first player to take half a point from the leader.

The remaining masters in the tournament were chiefly concerned in maintaining their temporary standing without unduly exerting themselves. Thus the tournament proceeded up to the eighth round, after which it was transferred from the somewhat old and unattractive rooms of the Kurhaus to the modern Hotel Imperial, where the pleasure-seeking masters will have an opportunity to do a Boston or tango between moves or find diversion at roulette after a strenuous day’s work.

The effect of this electrified atmosphere on the more sensitive and artistic temperaments was instantaneous. All of the games in the eighth round, the first played in the Imperial Hotel, indicated the decisive results. Incidentally, this very exceptional development effectively refutes rumors of a “death through draws” which is alleged to threaten our art.

Among the victories scored on this day was one by Frank Marshall , the United States champion. It was scored after a brief but energetic light cavalry charge. This American combatant began the tournament with three successive defeats. He then pulled himself together and by superior playing managed to gather in five points.

Despite his talent, Marshall has a weakness which in the present stage of evolution in chess asserts itself most unfavorably in a sporting sense. He is primarily an artist by nature who seeks, without compulsion or restraint, to create a style of his own.

Nowadays every leading master must “look to the end”, for among the strong partners play almost invariably leads to simplification, and with the end-game in sight one always should have soundness of one’s pawn skeleton in mind. Only in such instances as, for example, in the game between Marshall and Sir George Thomas of England, when one of the players disregards the principles of sound opening strategy and fails to bring his king into safety, is a quick decision possible.

Spielmann, in contradistinction to Marshall, has adapted his style of play to the present-day demands and this explains his success. After the fashion of José Capablanca of Cuba, he now follows the tendency of avoiding complications, but compared to the Cuban grandmaster, with whom he shares the same technique of simplification, he has the advantage of a livelier imagination and greater accuracy. As in the Semmering tournament of 1926, Spielmann once again is the player who makes the fewest mistakes and who devours his victims with deadly security.’

Article 4/6: New York Times, 25 August 1929, pages 1 and 2 of the sports section:

‘CARLSBAD, Aug. 24. – After two-thirds of the grand masters’ chess tournament is over it can be said that the leading players are very cautious when opposing each other – about 90 per cent of their games have ended in a simple manner. The final standing, therefore, depends on the smartness with which they beat the so-called outsiders. It is very interesting to get the correct idea of the most prominent of these outsiders.

Regarding their prize-winning chances in this tournament the “minors” can be divided into two groups; those who no longer are able to do much and those who have not yet advanced very far. The senior master, Géza Maróczy of Hungary, and the Englishmen, Sir George Thomas and F.D. Yates, certainly belong to the former group and also – it is hoped, however, only for this one time – Dr S. Tartakower of France, a successful theorist and author on chess.

Maróczy, who about 20 years ago, after the death of the American genius, Pillsbury, was considered the most qualified rival of the “great Lasker”, then the world champion, is now a typical example of one who bears the inevitable sign of an older class bravely and with dignity. And he has no reason to envy the younger generation, for he shows no lack of talent, vigour and perceptivity, and only his will to win and great personal ambition, which is of the utmost importance for success in any contest, is no longer the same. But where national and not personal ambition is the question, he is marvelous.

At the international match in London in 1927 he appeared, after a long illness, as the head Hungarian player. Playing without any loss he incited his compatriots to such efforts that the palm of victory was allotted to the Hungarians.

Sir Thomas [sic] and Yates are typical representatives of the English school and style of chess, especially Yates. This school, founded by the great combination of players, Blackburne and Mason and the ingenious, although less profound, Bird, always lay greater stress on a thorough study of each tactical unit of a scheme than on judging the expediency of such a scheme.

That they had good results despite such a primitive conception of chess was due, especially by Blackburne, first to their extraordinary combinatorial talent and, second, to the fact that Steinitz’s epoch-making explanations of the principles of chess strategy were then only beginning to become popular.

This is quite different nowadays when every average champion is well equipped with strategical knowledge, especially those players who lay chief stress on the tactical moment in a match, and who must possess the most exact calculation and never-failing sharpness. For such types of players the signs of the older class are simply pernicious. Therefore it is not surprising that masters like Sir Thomas [sic] and Yates – who also in former times seldom detected the entire plan beyond a single move – are being driven to the background of the chess arena.

It is a different case with the highly talented Dr Tartakower. He is a victim of overproduction in chess, which also in our art gradually degrades the artist to a “tradesman”, and what is worse, he has lost his own style. It is incomprehensible that such a head can have such faltering ideas. Surely it is only a passing sign of fatigue. But for this tournament he no longer counts as a candidate for first prize.

Among the younger players, the Peruvian, E. Canal, who lives in Italy, and the Belgian champion, E. Colle, are to be mentioned in the first line. Each of them seeks a way to perfection by a path shown to him by his natural temperament. The South American, whose sparkling eyes and Indian profile attract attention, has presented himself in this tournament mainly as a cautious endgame player. On the other hand, Colle’s power of imagination commences when there is a possibility of attacking his opponent’s king. Canal lacks perseverance and Colle physical health.

I have suspended final judgment so far about Miss Vera Menchik of Russia, because the greatest caution and objectivity in criticism are necessary regarding anyone so extraordinary. However, after 15 rounds it is certain that she is an absolute exception in her sex. She is so highly talented for chess that with further work and experience at tournaments she will surely succeed in developing from her present stage of an average player into a high classed international champion.

She indisputably has attained her three points against the strong masters, but it is little known to the public that she has also attained superior positions against Euwe, Treybal, Colle and Dr Vidmar. She was beaten by Dr Vidmar only after a nine-hour match. It is the chess world’s duty to grant her every possibility for development.

Some of the “small players” were able to overthrow the tournament list in the last few days. Canal beat Spielmann, and Maróczy and Tartakower beat Bogoljubow. This defeat of Spielmann’s, however, was not decisive, for the Münchener was playing for first prize, but Bogoljubow is a candidate for the world’s championship.

His double defeat in this tournament is hardly retrievable. He probably will have to be content with moral success. However, Bogoljubow should not be deprecated. In a medium tournament at Dortmund in 1928 he attained only 50 per cent success, and afterward at Kissingen he was first, ahead of Capablanca and Spielmann. It would be a great mistake if in the next big match his opponent would permit himself to immoderate optimism.

Spielmann’s failure probably was due only to passing nervousness. He has sufficient chess abilities to remain at the head of this match. But it is admitted that Capablanca, who is on an equal standing with him after the 15th game, perhaps has greater chances morally. It is true the Cuban has succeeded – but not without some lucky incidents – to carry through his obvious intention to draw his games against dangerous opponents and “swallow all the small fish” by means of his superior technique.

Besides, Spielmann, Vidmar and Nimzowitsch are in a dangerous neighborhood. Nimzowitsch was lucky enough to win against Marshall when he was exposed to defeat.

The last third of the tournament promises, in regard to sport, to be the most exciting.’

Article 5/6: New York Times, 28 August 1929, pages 19 and 20:

‘CARLSBAD, Aug. 25. – After the failure of Rudolph [sic] Spielmann of Austria in the middle rounds of the chess tourney here, experts believed that José Capablanca of Cuba would be the winner. Therefore there was a great surprise when it became known, after 20 minutes of play against F. Sämisch, that the Cuban had lost, owing to a gross mistake on the ninth move, losing a major piece [sic] to the German master for only one pawn.

This game, which naturally lost all artistic value, was dragged by Capablanca to the 60th move. However, the inevitable at last happened. It is clear that a master of Capablanca’s class does not need to lose games in such a manner.

While such a mistake never has happened to masters of a less high class, such as A. Nimzowitsch of Denmark and Dr Vidmar of Yugoslavia, in their long careers, negligence with Capablanca is sporadical and nearly typical. Just remember the 1914 St Petersburg game with Tarrasch, the 1916 New York test with Chajes, the London match in 1922 with Morrison, the Moscow test of 1925 against Werlinksy, the 12th game at Buenos Aires in 1927 and the Kissingen match of the same year against Spielmann.

This short statistical outline, which easily could be continued, shows sufficiently that the former world’s champion lacks an important component of chess playing strength, namely an imperturbable attention which separates the player absolutely from the outer world. Therefore, with him, such mistakes as in the Sämisch game cannot be counted as a crash incident.


José Raúl Capablanca

Regarding the sporting point of view, however, Capablanca’s defeat has a positive value in that it prevents a new legend of his inviolability, which this tournament would have more than justified, being built up because he twice before was clearly exposed to defeat and only had to thank the carelessness of his opponents for his rescue.

Public attention thus has been called to Sämisch, who so far has had little luck at Carlsbad. Possibly big achievements may be expected of this agreeable German master, who won third prize in the 1923 tourney here, leaving a number of the bigger masters behind, and won two first prizes last year, losing not one of 42 games.

That the hopes placed in him in this tourney may not be realized is due – paradoxical as it sounds – according to the observation of the author of this article, to an excessive use of nicotine. Certainly a cigarette has a soothing effect for a moment. However, a player deep in thought and excited is easily apt to smoke too much, thus, in the first line, spoiling his memory and ruining his nerves and his power of resistance. Only when I rid myself of the passion for cigarettes did I attain enough confidence to win the world championship.

I believe, therefore, that if Sämisch is able to free himself of this habit he will enjoy a very good future in chess.

Naturally some of the masters showed signs of fatigue in the second half of the tournament, mainly Dr Max Euwe of Holland and Dr Vidmar. The latter does not seem as yet to have overcome the defeat by Professor A. Becker of Austria. He also seems not to have had sufficient experience in tournaments, otherwise he would know that defeat itself is not to be feared in a large tourney but rather its physical effects.

Another, besides the experienced tournament player Capablanca, proved that he is fully conversant with modern chess tactics and that is the Polish grand master, Akiba Rubinstein. All the admirers of this genius of chess will be pleased to hear this. Rubinstein’s career in chess has been original. After sharing first prize with Lasker in the great tournament at St Petersburg in 1909 and winning four first prizes in other large tournaments, all experts and Lasker, the world champion himself, considered Rubinstein qualified to be Lasker’s successor. His innovations in the opening theory and his masterly ability to find microscopic advantages in the final game have procured him a place of high honor in the chess hierarchy.

Then came the World War. In the post-War tournaments was Rubinstein quite changed. He no longer was the calm, methodical strategist who was able to turn the faults, almost imperceptible, of even the greatest players in his favor, but a man who apparently decided to replace his nerves, ruined during the years of the War, with a new temperament in his game. Hereby he obtained an exceedingly large number of brilliancy prizes – at the Teplitz tournament he won five such prizes – but this system did not prove successful for any length of time.

In 1924 and 1925 he suffered heavy defeats and had to change his system again. Luckily he has succeeded. He has realized the necessity of balancing the modern theories of chess with his special talent. That this is the correct point of view is shown in this tournament. The “second chess youth” which Rubinstein is surely approaching will find him, according to his talent, a very great man.

As this is being written there still are three rounds to be played. A finish seldom has been so exciting as this one. Spielmann still has to play against Nimzowitsch, and Capablanca has such heavy opposition as Dr Vidmar and Maróczy, while Nimzowitsch still has to encounter Tartakower and Maróczy.

The difference of a half a point between the three first-named is almost zero. Capablanca seems unmoved by his defeat, Nimzowitsch, although somewhat agitated, is encouraged by his success, and Spielmann, even if somewhat fatigued, is incited by a decided “will to win” which promises a lot.’

Article 6/6, New York Times, 30 August 1929, pages 13 and 14:

‘CARLSBAD, Aug. 29. – The fourth international grand masters’ chess tournament at Carlsbad resulted in an exciting finish, Aaron Nimzowitsch being the man of the day. Other winners of prizes lent significance to the tournament.

That was a finish. Every day [sic] of the last round was a surprise, and the biggest was another victory for Rudolf Spielmann over José R. Capablanca.

This game former champion was defeated by Spielmann’s heavy direction of play. From the first to the last move he was unable to do anything against the attack. It was all the harder for the Cuban to lose this encounter as his other competitor in the finishing phase showed an extraordinary playing disposition.

Spielmann took the lead at the beginning and kept it during the first half of the tournament. Capablanca gained ground according to his manner, slowly and apparently surely. Nimzowitsch played his speed and had a very narrow victory. Nimzowitsch’s first prize, the first success of his chess career, was the only surprise from a sporting point of view. The widest circles expected Capablanca to win although he often disappointed his adherents last year. From a point of view of quality, there was only one opinion possible about Nimzowitsch’s achievement at Carlsbad: it was by far most significant of all.

Right at the beginning of the tournament, he pleased his friends with a genuine game against Bogoljubow, who was a dangerous opponent. Then he showed some uncertainty which caused some dull draws and the sole loss of one game against Yates.

Driven back to the middle tournament list, he patiently waited for something to occur to give him back his self-confidence and incite him to a new maximum of achievement. He actually received such incitement from his miraculous rescue in the game with Dr Euwe. It was in the ninth round when, in promising position, the Dutch precedent player permitted himself to be checkmated by a gross trap by Nimzowitsch, who suddenly advanced to the first line, where he remained.

Nevertheless, four rounds before the finish, his prospects of attaining first prize were still poor. Standing one half point behind the leaders, he still had to play against the four big guns, Vidmar, Spielmann, Maróczy and Tartakower.

Not only was it a fact that he won three and one-half encounters of these four games, but he did so in emphatic and deep style, worthy of a first prize winner of such a significant tournament.

If in addition one considers what Nimzowitsch attained against other winners, by far the best result – four victories, three draws – then his success must be of higher value than the advance points, which at first glance only appear small.

In a preliminary article of the Carlsbad tournament we referred to Nimzowitsch as an advocate of a real artistic line. This victory of the mediating explorer of our art will gladly welcome all those who see more than entertainment or sporting record in chess.

In America he became known as a sensible player by participation with six [sic] champions in a tournament in New York in 1927, especially by his impressive start. However, one is only able to form a correct opinion of the chess artist and philosopher, Nimzowitsch, if he is acquainted with his books. His last book is especially interesting. Therein he illustrates by numerous games his strategy which he calls “system”, and does this in such original manner that the reader is led to a new kind of reflection on chess without noticing it.


Aron Nimzowitsch

His great chess knowledge certainly was a preliminary condition to his victory, but undoubtedly his fine physiological treatment of an opponent also contributed to the victory. That especially was noticeable in games against Spielmann and Tartakower. Knowing Spielmann would not be content with a draw, he drew him into a prolix variant exchange and thereby in the end obtained a very small but undeniable advance.

He noticed that the grand master Tartakower was so fatigued that he had only capable and brilliant ideas, but could not stand through a game for hours. Therefore, he started a lengthy rochade attack and Tartakower actually collapsed in the sixth hour of play after a splendid defense at the beginning.

According to the course of play following the allotments, Spielmann deserved a high prize on account of his splendid achievement in the first half of the tournament and Capablanca’s defeat.

But Spielmann’s nerves forsook him at important moments – in the game with Rubinstein and in the final game with Mattison, in which he already was on the winning point.

Capablanca delivered some games which owing to a symmetrical style had an aesthetic effect. Even if there is any question of his indisputable superiority over precedent players, he nevertheless is one of the foremost and likely to remain so for a long time.

We told about Rubinstein’s significant success in the last article. As to Vidmar and Euwe, they hardly fulfilled the hopes their adherents had placed in them. Professor Becker passed his first international test successfully.

Bogoljubow’s last prize, of course, corresponds in no degree to his real playing strength. We know from example of the talented grandmaster Schlechter that deficient shape in any master may be only passing. Soon after his failure in the Petersburg tournament in 1909 he was able to draw a game with the giant Lasker. Bogoljubow is sure to show quite a different force in the forthcoming championship match.

The Carlsbad tournament, in which alert play and full ideas were shown, is of greater value to chess than merely the sport of comparison of results. It has shown that chess, even in its present shape, is exceedingly far from destruction owing to drawn games and unnecessary reforms which some desire to force upon the play.

Three cheers for the future, everlasting young and old in chess!’


Left to right: Aron Nimzowitsch, Victor Tietz, Alexander Alekhine (Carlsbad, 1929)

Note: These texts were originally reproduced by us in C.N.s 1274 and 1319, in 1986-87.


  • 6 years ago


    Mysteries at Sabadell, 1945

    Edward Winter

    (2005 and 2006)

    In November 2005 Miquel Artigas (Sabadell, Spain) kindly presented in Chess Notes (C.N.s 4008 and 4015) six photographs discovered in the archives of the Club d’escacs Sabadell. All were taken in August 1945, during a small tournament in Sabadell won by Alexander Alekhine and, unexpectedly, two of the pictures have given rise to curious mysteries. 


    Vallés v Lupi


    Terrazas v Ros


    Mena v Pérez


    General view of the playing area, with Alekhine on the far right.


    Round nine


    Alexander Alekhine (left) 

    Miquel Artigas commented in C.N. 4008:

    ‘The international chess tournament held in Sabadell (Spain) on 2-10 August 1945 is one of the lesser-known events in which Alekhine played. As far as I am aware, the main sources of information are the books on Alekhine by P. Morán (Spanish and English editions) and by L.M. Skinner/R.G.P. Verhoeven. Surprisingly, in the 367-page book Federació Catalana d’Escacs 75 anys d’historia (Barcelona, 2001) I have found (on page 63) only eight lines on the tournament, and not even the crosstable, which is given in the other books mentioned above. Nor could I find anything about the tournament in Ajedrez Español, which was the only chess magazine published in Spain at that time.’

    The six photographs from Sabadell, 1945 were provided by Mr Artigas with the permission of the President of the Club d’escacs Sabadell, Oscar Oliva.

    Mystery one: alleged Alekhine v Muñoz miniature


    In C.N. 4016 we commented that from the identification of the players at the bottom of the demonstration board it seemed clear that Alekhine was facing Muñoz, yet the position bears no relation to that game as presented on pages 231-233 of A. Alekhine Agony of a Chess Genius by P. Morán (Jefferson, 1989). Nor were we able to match the position with any other game. The game-score given by Morán as Alekhine v Muñoz is as follows:

    1 d4 d5 2 c4 e6 3 Nf3 Nf6 4 Bg5 Bb4+ 5 Nc3 dxc4 6 e4 c5 7 Bxc4 cxd4 8 Nxd4 Qa5 9 Bxf6 Bxc3+ 10 bxc3 Qxc3+ 11 Kf1 Qxc4+ 12 Kg1 O-O 13 Qg4 g6 14 e5 Nc6


    15 Nf5 Resigns.

    The question, therefore, is whether Morán’s book, which gave no source for the score of the Alekhine v Muñoz game, was mistaken. The same 15-move game was also given as Alekhine v Muñoz on page 728 of Alexander Alekhine’s Chess Games, 1902-1946by L.M. Skinner and R.G.P. Verhoeven (Jefferson, 1998), but the source specified there was merely Morán’s book. On the other hand, if Morán was correct that the 15-move game occurred between Alekhine and Muñoz, how could the above photograph be explained?

    In C.N. 4357 Leonard Barden (London) wrote:

    ‘The real encounter between Alekhine and Muñoz, which must be the pictured game, looks like a French Defence with 3 Nd2/Nc3 dxe4 4 Nxe4. In his game against Julio López in a tournament at Almería later the same month Alekhine chose a rather similar formation to that shown in the photograph, and especially Bf4 with Bg3 after Black’s Nd5. The black formation in the picture is indistinct, but Muñoz has gone for ...a6 and perhaps ...Bd7 rather than the ...b6/Bb7/Re8 set-up which encouraged Alekhine’s sacrificial king’s-side attack in the López game.

    Page 728 of the Skinner/Verhoeven book on Alekhine records that his game against Muñoz was played in the ninth and final round, on 10 August. Tournament photographers often turn up on the first day or the final day, so that is consistent too.

    But in that case, who was the loser of the 15-mover? 14 e5 is essentially just a one-move cheapo based on Black missing the obvious Nf5 threat. If Black answers 14...h5 to give the king a flight square at h7, then 14 e5 is not very good. The database shows 14 Qf4 as the normal continuation, with Trifunović v Gligorić, Mar del Plata, 1953 as a principal example. So 14 e5 looks like the kind of move that is played in a simultaneous exhibition or, if in a tournament, against a truly weak player.

    Since Mena finished eighth out of ten in Sabadell and had a name which could easily have become warped into Muñoz he might seem the most likely player to have lost the 15-move game. However, page 727 of Skinner and Verhoeven’s book records that of the four missing games Alekhine was White in all of them except the Mena one. The missing games were listed as follows:

    Round two, 3 August: Mena v Alekhine
    Round three, 4 August: Alekhine v Vilardebó
    Round five, 6 August: Alekhine v Ros
    Round seven, 8 August: Alekhine v Pérez.

    Assuming that the above details are correct, the question, therefore, is whether the loser of the 15-move game was Vilardebó, Ros or Pérez.’

    <>To try to take the matter forward we asked in C.N. 4387 whether the miniature had been published, by Morán or anyone else, before 1972. C.N. 4394 mentioned that Alekhine’s tournament schedule was given, together with the available game-scores, on pages 727-728 of the Skinner/Verhoeven book:

    Round one (2 August): Alekhine v Vallés. ½-½.
    Round two (3 August): Mena v Alekhine. 0-1. Game unavailable.
    Round three (4 August): Alekhine v Vilardebó. ½-½. Game unavailable.
    Round four (5 August): Terrazas v Alekhine. 0-1.
    Round five (6 August): Alekhine v Ros. 1-0. Game unavailable.
    Round six (7 August): Medina v Alekhine. ½-½.
    Round seven (8 August): Alekhine v Pérez. 1-0. Game unavailable.
    Round eight (9 August): Lupi v Alekhine 0-1.
    Round nine (10 August): Alekhine v Muñoz 1-0.

    See, furthermore, pages 225-235 of A. Alekhine Agony of a Chess Genius and pages 291-304 of the original Spanish edition of Morán’s book, Agonía de un Genio (Madrid, 1972).

    Also in C.N. 4394 Leonard Barden presented a further detailed analysis of the affair:

    ‘Alekhine had five games as White and four as Black. This means that in a normal tournament draw (round one: 1 v 10, 2 v 9, etc. and round nine 9 v 1, 8 v 2, etc.) he would be in the top half of the pairing table. He never had two successive games as White, which signifies that he was number five in the pairings. That is demonstrated by the crosstable on page 225 of his book ¡Legado! (Madrid, 1946):


    The round-by-round pairings given in Skinner and Verhoeven’s book are consistent with the order of the draw shown in the crosstable, i.e. 1 Ros, 2 Medina, 3 Pérez, 4 Lupi, 5 Alekhine, 6 Vallés, 7 Mena, 8 Vilardebó, 9 Terrazas and 10 Muñoz. Assuming normal pairings, this means that the final round was Terrazas v Ros, Alekhine v Muñoz, Vilardebó v Medina, Mena v Pérez and Vallés v Lupi, and that is what is pictorially shown, except that Vilardebó and Medina are only in the group picture – which also has “9 ronda” on the demonstration boards.


    The larger group shot (below) also shows a couple of tournament charts above the demonstration boards. The right-hand one seems to be some local subsidiary event, but the left-hand one is complete, with 11 cards, the top one a heading and No. 10 partly obscured by the demonstration board. The names are illegible, but it can be judged whether it is a long or short word, and this too is consistent.


    It is therefore absolutely sure that the Alekhine v Muñoz photograph of the French Defence game is from round nine, after about one hour’s play, as shown by the clocks, and that the 15-move game cannot have been played between those two players in the Sabadell tournament. In any case, apart from his score of only 2/9 in that event Muñoz  seems unknown to chess history, and too weak to have played such a sharp variation.

    Alekhine drew with Vilardebó so, on the face of it, the 15-mover would have to be either Alekhine v Pérez or Alekhine v Ros, which are the two missing games which he won as White. 

    The only other known game by Alekhine in his entire career which opens 1 d4 d5 2 c4 e6 3 Nf3 Nf6 4 Bg5 Bb4+ (most other opponents played 4...Nbd7) appears to be the consultation game Alekhine and Frank v Bogoljubow and Pfaffenroth, Warsaw, 1941. It varied from the 15-mover with 12...Bd7? 13 Rc1 Qa6 14 Nxe6 fxe6 15 Rc8+ Kf7 16 Rxh8 gxf6 17 Qh5+ Ke7 18 Qc5+ Kf7 19 Rf8+ Kg7 20 Qe7 Resigns. See pages 670-671 of Skinner and Verhoeven’s book. The game was also given by Morán in his notes to the 15-mover which he incorrectly headed Alekhine v Muñoz.

    In his annotations to the consultation game on page 185 of the 1 December 1941 issue of Deutsche Schachblätter Alekhine commented that “after 12...O-O White would obtain a winning position by means of 13 Qg4 g6 14 e5! (threatening Nf5)”. In other words, the 15-mover had essentially appeared four years earlier.


    Ajedrez Español (page 37 of the February 1942 issue) also printed the consultation game, with notes by López Esnaola, although 12...O-O was not mentioned:


    Ajedrez Español, February 1942 (submitted by Miquel Artigas)

    During his last five years Alekhine normally played 1 e4, mainly reserving 1 d4 for selected stronger opponents. Then after 1...Nf6 2 c4 e6 3 Nf3 Nf6 or b6 he would go into a Catalan or Queen’s Indian. So would a lesser player like Pérez or Ros choose, as Black, an obscure system with such a dubious reputation four years later in Sabadell, and why should Alekhine choose 4 Bg5 rather than his usual 4 g3 against a random opponent when he was not to know that the game would go down the Vienna Variation route?

    I met Francisco Pérez (who died in 1999) at the 1958 and 1960 Olympiads, at which time he was a strong and ambitious International Master. Later he emigrated from Spain to Cuba, where he could play on a high board, become the national trainer and compete in the Capablanca Memorial tournaments in Havana. He was theoretically up-to-date in the King’s Indian, which he used in 1958, and I find it hard to believe that he would have tried to surprise Alekhine with a rare dubious line and then fallen into a one-move trap.

    In the meeting between Alekhine and Ros one would expect 1 e4 by Alekhine (against a weak opponent) or, if 1 d4, a Catalan. And if Ros really knew enough to choose the sharp Vienna Variation he might be expected to know the above-mentioned consultation game. In the 15-mover Black’s play is both too strong (knowledge of a sharp theoretical line) and too weak (the worst possible move was played at the first opportunity). 14...Nc6 (the only independent move in the 15-mover) is really bad, as it allows not only 15 Nf5 but also 15 Nxc6, after which 15...Qxg4 permits 16 Ne7 mate and if 15...Qxc6 then 16 Qf4, followed by Qh6-g7. It is also worth mentioning that the consultation game was given on pages 230-231 of Schachgenie Aljechin by H. Müller and A. Pawelczak (Berlin-Frohnau, 1953), with a note at move 12 which included the line 12...O-O 13 Qg4 g6 14 e5 Nd7 15 Qf4 Nxf6. However, 14...Nd7 is answered by 15 Nf5. The German book was obviously unaware of Alekhine’s annotations in Deutsche Schachblätter, which is surprising as Müller was a well-known theoretician. However, the book’s other suggested reply to 14 e5 is 14...Re8, which creates a hole for the black king at f8 and therefore stops the 15 Nf5 trick.

    Of course, if Alekhine won the 15-mover against neither Pérez nor Ros that means that it was not played by him in the Sabadell tournament at all. There is also the dog that failed to bark in the night argument. It has not been shown that “Alekhine v Muñoz” appeared in print before the original Spanish edition of Morán’s book in 1972, yet other Alekhine miniatures from the war years were published in contemporary sources. Alekhine, in 1945, badly needed to improve his public image following the anti-Semitic articles controversy. How better to do so than by a 15-move queen sacrifice game (never mind that it was analysis) which every space-limited chess journalist the world over would pounce on? But Alekhine himself, his publicist Lupi, who was present, Medina, who was a chess journalist and was also present, and the Sabadell organizers all kept silent. In particular, the game did not appear in Alekhine’s book ¡Legado!, which, indeed, had no games from the event. So was the game ever played, or did somebody merely create it from Alekhine’s annotations to the consultation game in Deutsche Schachblätter?’

    Nobody has yet been able to identify Alekhine’s opponent in the 15-move game.

    Mystery two: which Terrazas?

    The other photograph submitted by Miquel Artigas which has given rise to a mystery is the following:


    Terrazas v Ros

    In C.N. 4008 we expressed puzzlement at the picture of Terrazas, because on page 227 of the English edition of Pablo Morán’s book on Alekhine the translator, Frank X. Mur, added the following note at the end of the Terrazas v Alekhine game:

    ‘Alekhine’s victim was 11 years old. Years later he wrote: “I only recall that the imposing figure of an Alekhine made one play with a deep reverential awe, especially at that age.” – Filiberto Terrazas to Frank X. Mur, letter dated 19 January 1979.’

    C.N. 4015 mentioned that the original Spanish edition of Morán’s book (Madrid, 1972) gave no forename, or even initial, for Terrazas and asked whether he was really Filiberto. (A player of that name certainly existed.) Mr Artigas wrote in that same C.N. item:

    ‘In Sabadell there was a player named Teodoro Terrazas Elizando. In the 1944-45 season he was registered with the Federación Catalana de Ajedrez as a first-category player for the Sabadell club, and I have been lucky enough to find his identity card for that season. I am almost sure that he was the participant in Sabadell, 1945, but further checking is required.’

    Subsequently (C.N. 4392) Mr Artigas reported:

    ‘I have been doing some research in the Arxiu històric de Sabadell, where the local newspaper Sabadell of the time is available. Unfortunately there are only two pieces of information about the tournament preliminaries and no further news about the event, crosstable or scores.

    However, the newspaper presented Terrazas as a local player, and in my opinion it is now clear that it was Teodoro Terrazas Elizando, and not Filiberto Terrazas as stated by Frank X. Mur.’

    As regards Filiberto Terrazas, C.N. 1180 gave a game lost by him against Fidel Castro in Havana, 1966, from page 323 of the November 1966 Jaque Mate: 1 e4 e5 2 f4 exf4 3 Nf3 Bd6 4 d4 h6 5 e5 Bb4+ 6 c3 Ba5 7 Bxf4 g5 8 Bg3 Qe7 9 Be2 d6 10 exd6 cxd6 11 Qa4+ Nc6 12 d5 Bd8 13 dxc6 b5 14 Qxb5 a6 15 Qa4 g4 16 c7+ Bd7 17 c8(Q) Rxc8 18 Qd4 gxf3 19 Qxh8 Qxe2 mate. In C.N. 4049 we reproduced this photograph, taken during play, from the back-cover of Terrazas’ book La guerra apache en México, which was first published in 1972:


    As mentioned on pages 8-9, in 1962 Terrazas wrote El águila caída, a biographical novel concerning Carlos Torre.


    But does Filiberto Terrazas have anything to do with Sabadell, 1945? Not according to any of the local evidence, but there is his claim in the Morán book. In C.N. 4665 Frank X. Mur (Oakland, CA, USA) informed us: 

    ‘After Koltanowski published the Terrazas v Alekhine game, stating that the former was aged 11 in 1945, I asked him to give me the address of Terrazas, who was an expatriate in Mexico. Koltanowski did so, and Terrazas’s reply to me of 19 January 1979 included the following two sentences, the second of which was translated into English on page 227 of A. Alekhine Agony of a Chess Genius:

    “Como con toda razón expresa Usted, a los 11 años de edad yo no estaba como para guardar copias de las partidas de torneo. Sólo recuerdo que la imponente figura de un Alekhine le hacía a uno jugar con un profundo temor reverencial particularmente a esa edad.”’

    And there the matter currently stands. At Sabadell, 1945 did Alekhine face the adult local player Teodoro Terrazas Elizando or the 11-year-old Filiberto Terrazas?

  • 6 years ago


    Was Alekhine a Nazi?

    Edward Winter



    In March 1941 a series of articles under the name of Alexander Alekhine appeared in Pariser Zeitung, a newspaper published in the French capital by the occupying German forces. Entitled ‘Aryan and Jewish Chess’, the articles claimed that Jews had had a destructive effect on the development of the game. Three brief extracts will give the flavour:

    • ‘Do the Jews, as a race, have a gift for chess? After 30 years’ chess experience I would like to answer this question in the following manner: yes, the Jews have an exceptional talent for exploiting chess, chess ideas and the practical possibilities that arise. But there has not been up to now a Jew who was a real chess artist.’
    • ‘Just as with Nimzowitsch and his System, so was Réti given a warm welcome by the majority of Anglo-Jewish pseudo-intellectuals for his book Die neuen Ideen im Schach. ... And this cheap bluff, this shameless self-publicity, was swallowed without resistance by a chess world, poisoned by Jewish journalists, which echoed the jubilant cries of Jews and their friends; “Long live Réti, and long live hypermodern neoromantic chess”.’
    • ‘Again in the 1937 return match with Euwe the collective chess Jewry was aroused. Most of the Jewish masters mentioned in this review attended as press reporters, trainer and seconds for Euwe. At the beginning of the second match I could no longer let myself be deceived: that is, I had to fight not Euwe, but the combined chess Jewry, and in the event my decisive victory (10:4) was a triumph against the Jewish conspiracy.’

    Much of the material was subsequently reprinted, though with considerable textual variants, in Deutsche Zeitung in den Niederlanden and Deutsche Schachzeitung. The magazine CHESS printed extensive English translations (of the Deutsche Schachzeitungversion), as did Horowitz and Rothenberg’s 1963 book The Personality of Chess. However, it was not until 1986 that a complete English version of the original Pariser Zeitung articles became available (Alekhine Nazi Articles, an excellent privately printed booklet edited by Kenneth Whyld). In recent years there have also been two reproductions of the original German, by Wolfgang Kubel (1973) and Herbert Griesshammer (1983).


    An extract from Deutsche Zeitung in den Niederlanden

    Condemnation of the articles came from many notable sources. The November 1945 CHESS (page 28) quoted from De Waarheid a denunciation of Alekhine by G.C.A. Oskam: ‘His libellous articles have filled me with sorrow. They were written by a miserable collaborator, by a mean profiteer; they breathe lies and fraud, the necessary elements of racial hatred; they are dictated by the qualities present in the person of a double traitor ...’ The same magazine published an anti-Alekhine letter from Ossip Bernstein which was not without over-the-fence gossip: ‘I refrain from giving further disgusting details about his behaviour. It could be added that he adopted the Nazi salute “Heil Hitler” with outstretched arm.’

    Alekhine’s first disavowal of the articles appears to date from just after the liberation of Paris (and not from just after the end of the War, as sometimes alleged even today). The December 1944 BCM (pages 274-275) and the January 1945 CHESS (page 53) both reported Alekhine’s statement in a published interview (News Review, 23 November 1944) that while in France ‘he had to write two chess articles for the Pariser Zeitung before the Germans granted him his exit visa ... Articles which Alekhine claims were purely scientific were rewritten by the Germans, published and made to treat chess from a racial viewpoint.’

    After his invitation to the London, 1946 tournament was withdrawn because of his war record, Alekhine wrote a long open letter to the organizer, W. Hatton-Ward, which was widely published at the time. With regard to the articles, he stated:

    ‘Among the heap of monstrosities published by the Pariser Zeitung appeared insults against the members of the Committee which organized the 1937 match: and the Dutch Chess Federation even lodged a protest on this matter with Post. At that time I was absolutely powerless to do the one thing which would have clarified the situation, to declare that the articles had not been written by me ... For three years, until Paris was liberated, I had to keep silent. But from the first opportunity I tried in interviews to show up the facts in their true light. Of the articles which appeared in 1941 during my stay in Portugal and which I learnt about in the Deutsche Schachzeitung, nothing was actually written by me. I had submitted material dealing with the necessary reconstruction of the FIDE (the International Chess Federation) and a critique, written well before 1938, of the theories of Lasker and Steinitz. I was surprised when I received letters from Messrs Helms and Sturgis at the reaction which these articles – purely technical – had provoked in America and I replied to Mr Helms accordingly. Only when I knew what incomparably stupid lucubrations had been created in a spirit imbued with Nazi ideas did I realize what it was all about. But I was then a prisoner of the Nazis and our only hope of preservation was to keep silent. Those years ruined my health and my nerves and I am even surprised that I can still play chess.’

    (The above is the CHESS translation. In the BCM Helms came out as ‘Helsus’ and ‘1939’ was given rather than 1938.)

    Alekhine wrote a further denial on page xx of his last book, the posthumous !Legado!:

    ‘Once more I insist on repeating that which I have published on several occasions: that is, that the articles which were stupid and untrue from a chess point of view and which were printed signed with my name in a Paris newspaper in 1941 are a falsification. It is not the first time that unscrupulous newspapers have abused my name in order to publish inanities of that kind but in the present case what was published in Pariser Zeitung is what has caused me the most grief, not only because of its content but also precisely because it is impossible for me to rectify it ... Colleagues know my sentiments and they know perfectly well how great is the esteem in which I hold their art and that I have too elevated a concept of chess to become entangled in the absurd statements poured out by the above-mentioned Parisian newspaper.’

    Thus Alekhine’s line of defence was not consistent. Sometimes he claimed to have written nothing, but on other occasions said that the anti-Jewish slant had been added by others. The latter possibility is unlikely; once the anti-Jewish slant is taken away there is hardly anything left.


    Alexander Alekhine

    Two widely-read reference books, Golombek’s The Encyclopedia of Chess (London, 1977) and Hooper and Whyld’s The Oxford Companion to Chess (Oxford, 1984), state that upon the death of Alekhine’s widow in 1956 the articles were found in Alekhine’s own handwriting. In both cases the authors subsequently gave their source for this information: Brian Reilly, then the Editor of the BCM, had told them in 1956 that he had just seen the articles. However, this is denied by Reilly, whose eagerly-awaited biography of Alekhine will doubtless provide his account of the matter. [Brian Reilly died in 1991, and his work on Alekhine has not been published.] Another alleged sighting of the articles also has a curious twist. In the May 1986 Europe Echecs (pages 300-301) Jacques Le Monnier reported that before her death Grace Alekhine had passed a number of her late husband’s notebooks to a friend (unnamed). In 1958 Le Monnier was given access to the material and found, word for word and in Alekhine’s own handwriting, the text of the first anti-Semitic article, which had appeared in Pariser Zeitung of 18 March 1941. The word ‘Jew’ was almost invariably underlined, Le Monnier reported. This testimony seems watertight until one compares it with what Le Monnier wrote about the articles on page 24 of his 1973 book 75 parties d’Alekhine: ‘Alekhine stated several times that “not a word had been written by him”. It will never be known whether Alekhine was behind these articles or whether they were “manipulated” by the editor of thePariser Zeitung, a Czech player well known at the time in Parisian chess circles.’ These are, to say the least, surprising words from someone who, a dozen or so years later, was to declare that he himself had seen one anti-Semitic article in Alekhine’s own handwriting. (In passing it my also be wondered why Alekhine and his wife refrained from destroying such incriminating material as may have been in their possession after the fall of the Third Reich.)

    Such inconsistencies will be welcomed by defenders of Alekhine, many of whom have suggested that, being forced, for his own and his wife’s safety, to write anti-Semitic material, the then world champion deliberately made it ridiculous and inaccurate. The original Pariser Zeitung publication contained many elementary misspellings of proper names (‘Marschall’, ‘Andersen’, ‘Pilsburry’, etc. ). There is a reference to the match between La Bourdonnais and ‘Macdonald’ (instead of McDonnell) and to a ‘Polish Jew’ named ‘Kienezitzky’. (Kieseritzky is meant, although he was apparently neither Polish nor Jewish.) Some mistakes were corrected in the Deutsche Schachzeitung reprint, as were factual errors like the suggestion in Pariser Zeitung that Schlechter was a Jew. But the theory that Alekhine tried to signal his insincerity is mere guesswork which is not even supported by any claim to that effect from Alekhine himself. The wrong spellings might just as easily be put down to a Pariser Zeitung typesetter’s difficulty in reading Alekhine’s idiosyncratic handwriting.

    Fresh documentation has recently come to light which considerably strengthens the case against Alekhine. Pablo Morán has discovered two Madrid publications dated 3 September 1941 which contain interviews given by Alekhine just before his departure for the Munich, 1941 tournament. El Alcázar reported:

    ‘He [Alekhine] added that in the German magazine Deutsche Schachzeitung and the German daily Pariser Zeitung, currently published in Paris, he had been the first to deal with chess from the racial point of view. In these articles, he said, he wrote that Aryan chess was aggressive chess, that he considered defence solely to be the consequence of earlier error, and that, on the other hand, the Semitic concept admitted the idea of pure defence, believing it legitimate to win this way.’

    Alekhine told Valentín González of Informaciones about his intention to give lectures ‘about the evolution of chess thought in recent times and the reasons for this evolution. There would also be a study of the Aryan and Jewish kinds of chess.’ Moreover, Alekhine was quoted as saying that he was not in favour in the United States and England ‘as a result of some articles I wrote in the German press and some games I played in Paris during the last winter – against 40 opponents – for the German Army and Winter Relief.’ When asked which players he most admired Alekhine’s published reply was: ‘... I must stress the greatest glory of Capablanca, which was to eliminate the Jew Lasker from the world chess throne.’

    The Nazi articles affair is one of chess history’s most notorious scandals and intriguing mysteries. Although, as things stand, it is difficult to construct much of a defence for Alekhine, only the discovery of the articles in his own handwriting will settle the matter beyond all doubt.


    The above article first appeared on pages 68-70 of the 2/1989 New in Chess. On page 6 of the 4/1989 issue Jacques Le Monnier made a brief reply. It consisted of a fuller extract from the Europe Echecs article in which he had said that he had seen an article in Alekhine’s own handwriting, as well as the following remark:

    ‘I would not change a word. Alekhine’s notebooks are private documents and French law is categorical in this respect. They will enter in the public domain 60 years after the author’s death, i.e. in 2006. After this date historians and researchers may consult them, provided that Alekhine’s heirs and the owners of the notebooks agree.’

    In C.N. 1920 we quoted this and commented: ‘It is a pity that Mr Le Monnier did not answer our straightforward point: if in 1958 he saw an article in Alekhine’s own hand, why, some 15 years later, did he write that ‘it will never be known whether Alekhine was behind these articles …’?

    C.N.s 3605, 3606 and 3617 reverted to the Alekhine affair, and the third of these items mentioned that French copyright law changed in the 1990s, with the result that the notebooks would not enter the public domain until 1 January 2017.

    Complete English translations of Alekhine’s articles in El Alcázar and Informaciones were given in C.N. 1455 and are available as a separate feature article.

  • 6 years ago


    Chess in 1924

    Edward Winter


    The great New York tournament was, of course, the event of the year, but what else happened in the chess world in 1924?

    In a sense the answer is: surprisingly little. For Lasker, Capablanca and Alekhine, New York, 1924 was their sole formal appearance. Indeed, it was Capablanca’s only serious chess between August 1922 and November 1925. The Immortal Trio did, however, offer a number of simultaneous exhibitions. Here too Capablanca was the least prolific, giving just a handful, in the United States. Alekhine had preceded the New York tournament with an extensive tour of the US, also venturing into Canada, and Lasker’s 1924 displays were held in the Soviet Union, the USA, Yugoslavia, Czechoslovakia and Holland. Alekhine’s uncustomary inactivity – or, better say, quiescence – throughout the rest of 1924 is largely explained by a commitment to annotating all the games from the New York tournament. His book was published in German, English and Russian editions in 1925, and a Spanish version came out just after the Second World War. Rarely indeed has a tournament book appeared in so many languages.

    The year had begun – as years still do – with the Christmas/New Year Congress at Hastings, an event won by a relative newcomer, the 22-year-old Max Euwe, with a score of +7 –1 =1, half a point ahead of a relative oldgoer, Géza Maróczy. It was Maróczy who scored the draw, and Euwe’s loss was at the hands of the Belgian Edgard Colle. On page 23 of Fifty-One Brilliant Chess Masterpieces, a Colle anthology published in 1950, Reinfeld wrote, ‘With this game the fiery elegance of Colle’s attacking play became known to the chess world’. Although it was not a particularly strong line-up at Hastings, Mieses, then 59, came two places from the bottom.

    On 31 January Curt von Bardeleben, desperately impoverished, committed suicide by throwing himself out of the second-floor window of his residence in Berlin. Nowadays he is seldom mentioned except for his loss to Steinitz at Hastings, 1895, a game which Napier nominated as the finest ever played, and it is all but forgotten that in the same event von Bardeleben defeated the then world champion, Lasker. His many brief matches included wins and draws against masters of the standing of Blackburne, Teichmann, Spielmann and Leonhardt, but today it is almost as if they had never been played.

    The day after von Bardeleben’s demise came the death of the ‘Queen of Chess’, Mrs W.J. Baird of England. Her obituary on page 125 of the March 1924 BCM estimated that she had composed over 2,000 problems, in addition to being ‘a valiant opponent over the board’ and an accomplished archer.


    Mrs W.J. Baird

    The Merano tournament (4-22 February – the tournament immortalized by the Meran Variation) was won by Ernst Grünfeld, well ahead of Spielmann and Rubinstein. The ageing Tarrasch could do no better than finish tenth out of 14 players, but he captured the brilliancy prize for his defeat of Colle. Grünfeld is another master whose accomplishments have yet to be given their full due. The first phase of his career (1911-1920) was well covered by Michael Ehn in a monograph from the Wiener Schachverlag in 1993, but no sequel has yet been published, and to many players nowadays Grünfeld is just an opening and not a human being.

    By 1924 hypermodernism was close to its peak, with the openings propaganda war in full swing. Tartakower’s Die hypermoderne Schachpartie had started to appear the previous year, and the January 1924 Wiener Schachzeitung (pages 5-12) offered the rare spectacle of two leading theoreticians, Grünfeld and Tartakower, debating its analysis. Grünfeld himself wrote a book in 1924, Die Damenbauereröffnung und das Damengambit, but it would seem to have had little impact. (Confusingly, another 1924 book wasDas Damengambit und Damenbauerspiel by K. Emmrich. Its impact, if any, is even less evident.) After 1 d4 d5 Grünfeld’s practice at this time was to give an exclamation mark to 2 c4, claiming (Deutsche Schachzeitung, September 1924, page 209) that ‘2 Nf3 Nf6 3 c4! c5! 4 cxd5’ was weaker for White, and, in fact, gave Black equality. At all levels of the chess world it was proving a struggle to come to terms with the newfangled openings. The game Torre v Jennings, New York, 1924 began 1 d4 Nf6 2 Nf3 g6 3 Nc3 b6 4 e4 Bb7 5 Bd3 Bg7, prompting C.S. Howell to remark (American Chess Bulletin, December 1924, page 217): ‘Chess rules need revision, indeed, if Black must resort to the double “fianshutyourpiecesin” defense.’

    Not that all theoreticians were solely concerned with openings theory. The March Wiener Schachzeitung (pages 77-78) reported that Réti had profited from a visit to Saragossa to undertake a little detective work, investigating the well-publicized claim that José Juncosa y Molina had set a world record by playing 32 blindfold games simultaneously and winning 29 of them. In the Berliner Börsen-Courier Réti filed his report; Juncosa had actually played five games. The other 27 opponents had signed up but not turned up.

    After the New York tournament Réti went to South America and later in the year, playing hors concours, won the third Argentine National Tournament in Buenos Aires, finishing no fewer than four and a half points ahead of Roberto Grau. The ebullient Boris Kostić toured Australia and South Africa.

    In early April Euwe won a match in Zutphen (Holland) against Colle (+5 –3 =0) and later the same month returned to Britain to win the Weston-super-Mare tournament, in front of Sir George Thomas and Znosko-Borovsky. Although it was a ten-man all-play-all event, there were three days when two rounds were played, thereby enabling the contest to be completed within a week. Euwe was also becoming a prolific writer, mainly in Tijdschrift van den Nederlandschen Schaakbond, where an increasing number of annotated games ended with ‘M.E.’.


    Max Euwe

    Meanwhile the June 1924 BCM went badly astray by reporting the death of the French problemist Gustave Lazard, its claim being based on a simple misunderstanding. In fact, Lazard (perhaps one should say Lazarus) lived on until 30 November 1948, as recorded by L’Echiquier de Paris, January-February 1949, page 6. His younger, more famous brother Frédéric predeceased him by 12 days.


    Frédéric (left) and Gustave Lazard

    The name of the 18-year-old Vera Menchik started to be seen more often in chess periodicals, and page 273 of the July 1924 BCM commented that her style was ‘a demonstration both of her own talent and of the benefit she has derived from Maróczy’s coaching’. Just three years later she won the women’s world championship, a title she retained until her death in 1944.

    Mieses and Teichmann shared first prize in a small Leipzig tournament (27 June-1 July), each winning all his games apart from the draw in their individual encounter. Another event that summer was the Paris Olympic Tournament in July. Participants in the complex set-up included Colle, Duchamp, Euwe, Mattison, Rey Ardid and Rueb, and the top honours, together with the not altogether prestigious title of ‘Amateur World Champion’, went to Mattison. The whole tournament was despatched in just one week. Bringing up the rear in national terms were Russia and Yugoslavia, but this was because they were represented by only one player and two players respectively. A book on the tourney, containing 258 games, was published by M.A. Lachaga in Argentina, but not until nearly 50 years later.

    Paris, 1924 also marked the foundation of the Fédération Internationale des Echecs, with the appointment of the above-mentioned Alexander Rueb of The Hague as its President. Initially there were 15 signatories to FIDE: Argentina, Belgium, Canada, Czechoslovakia, Finland, France, Great Britain, Holland, Hungary, Italy, Poland, Romania, Spain, Switzerland and Yugoslavia. The Lachaga book reprinted the document which established the organization, whose statutory aims were expressed as follows:

    ‘La Fédération Internationale des Echecs aura pour but le développement de l’art des échecs, comme jeu universel, de propager l’idée d’entente entre les fédérations, de favoriser toute démonstration internationale relative au jeu d’échecs.’

    With the ink scarcely dry on these noble generalities, the politicking began. Deutsches Wochenschach wanted to know what would be done about countries with a strong racial minority which had formed an independent chess association, such as the German Chess Association in Czechoslovakia. The ‘Olympic Tournament’ itself had provoked controversy, on the grounds that it could not legitimately decide the amateur championship of the world while nations such as Germany and ‘German Austria’ were barred.

    Also in the summer of 1924 the British Championship was held in Southport. It was won by H.E. Atkins, who celebrated his 52nd birthday during the event. It was his eighth national title, though the first since 1911. (He was also to win once more, in 1925.) The ‘Major Open’ tournament played concurrently found Rubinstein outclassing a rather weak field, scoring 11 straight victories.

    The Dutch championship in Amsterdam was won by Euwe, ahead of Jacques Davidson, and towards the end of the year the two played a match, which Euwe won +5 –1 =3. J.H. Morrison won the Canadian Championship in Hamilton with a score of +13 –0 =2, and page 176 of the September-October 1924 American Chess Bulletin recorded: ‘Play went full steam ahead, with two rounds a day and three on the Friday, in order to meet the requirements of those players whose time was limited.’ Around the same period the Hungarian Chess Federation Congress in Győr was won by Nagy ahead of Przepiórka and Asztalos. Later in the year Maróczy, who had finished only equal eighth, brought out the tournament book, with light notes in German. At the Nordic Chess Congress in August, Nimzowitsch outshone all rivals, scoring +9 –0 =1 to finish first ahead of P. Johner. It was Nimzowitsch’s only formal event of 1924, but he was writing extensively, and his first two books, Die Blockade and Mein System, were to be published the following year.

    Detroit was the venue for the 25th Western Chess Association Tournament (23 August-2 September). The prodigy Reshevsky, his days as a touring Wunderkind behind him, came fifth, and it was the 18-year-old Carlos Torre who emerged victorious from the 17-man field, by a two-and-a-half point margin.


    Carlos Torre

    The July-August American Chess Bulletin (page 156) remarked that ‘Carlos Torre, the young Mexican expert, who for several years has made his home in New Orleans, where he outranked all others in interest in chess, recently came to New York and affiliated himself with the Marshall Chess Club. Like Capablanca, he has shown himself to be almost invincible in rapid transit play, although primarily he prefers slow, studious play.’ On pages 166-170 of the September-October issue of the same magazine, C.S. Howell presented some of Torre’s best games and offered a challenging comment on the Mexican:

    ‘He lacks technique and for the sake of his chess future, I hope that he will not hasten too much in cultivating it. Acquired naturally and as a result of the experience of play, technique is a valuable asset but the attempt to acquire it before one’s ability to combine has been fully developed has stopped permanently the improvement of a good many young players.’

    The All-Russian tournament of 1924 (i.e. the third USSR Championship), played from 28 August to 15 September, was won by Bogoljubow, two and a half points clear of Romanovsky. Other well-known participants included Bogatyrchuk, Levenfish, I. Rabinovich and Dus-Chotimirsky. The Soviet Union was paying ever more attention to Western chess, and 1924 saw the publication of Russian translations of two Capablanca books, My Chess Career and Chess Fundamentals. The former had a striking silhouette of the Cuban on the front cover, and the editions doubtless helped pave the way for the extraordinary popularity that he was to enjoy during his stay in the Soviet Union the following year.


    On 1 September J.H. Blackburne died at the age of 82, although most of the obituaries mysteriously gave his year of birth as 1842 instead of 1841. Inevitably many also spoke of the end of an era and the last link with a bygone age, phrases which were to be wheeled out again the following year when Amos Burn died and, once more, with the death of Gunsberg in 1930. Due emphasis was placed on the magnificence and duration of Blackburne’s career, and there were many anecdotes about his happy-go-lucky approach to simultaneous displays, counter-balanced by occasional references to his testiness. On page 402 of the October 1924 BCM, John Keeble reminisced:

    ‘Mr Blackburne held one peculiar view on chess. I showed him a problem in which en passant occurred. He at once said he thought that when an International Chess Federation is formed, one of their first acts will be to abolish PxP en passant from the game of chess, and I think he meant it, for in later years he adhered to that view.’


    Joseph Henry Blackburne

    Other notable deaths in 1924 included George E. Carpenter (a gifted problemist), Eugène Chatard (who has the distinction of joint billing with Alekhine in a variation of the French Defence), Harry Davidson (a strong player from Philadelphia), Václav Kautský (one of Czechoslovakia’s leading chess figures, dead at only 44) and Stepan Levitzky (immortalized by his loss to Marshall at Breslau, 1912).

    It cannot be asserted that 1924 was a vintage year for chess literature. Alekhine’s book of the Hastings, 1922 tournament finally showed up, and the BCM (June 1924 issue, page 225) commented darkly, ‘the late appearance of the book is not, we believe, due at all to the editor and printer’. In his preface to the book W.H. Watts also referred to the delay, absolving himself of blame, and adding blandly that there seemed to have been ‘a misunderstanding between the parties concerned’. In a rare tribute from one leading master to another, Rudolf Spielmann produced a 178-page monograph in Swedish on Schlechter’s best games and problems. Another important work was Troitzky’s 500 Endspielstudien. On a lower literary rung stood Chess of To-day by Alfred Emery, about which the December BCM (page 485) remarked, ‘Despite the increased cost of printing and paper since 1914, we think that a cloth cover might have been provided for the half-crown.’ The magazine (June 1924 issue, page 226) had been more impressed by a book published earlier in the year, Chess Masterpieces by W.H. Watts, 50 annotated games and ‘the cheapest shillingsworth we have seen for many a long day’. The American Chess Bulletin (May-June 1924, page 131) also liked it, but revealed itself as a stickler for historical accuracy concerning the book’s illustrations: ‘it might be well to point out that Alekhine has since shaved off his moustache and that Bogoljubow has become a jolly “200-pound master” – a fact that the photographs in this book would hardly lead one to surmise.’

    In a relatively quiet year for chess, periodicals had much space available for dross and trivia. A news item in the November issue of the Chess Amateur (page 34) read, in full: ‘The Bury and West Suffolk Chess Club is now starting its 57th season with a strong membership.’ The same month the BCM announced (page 447): ‘The Grimsby Chess Club has just entered on its jubilee season and has had an unbroken record of unostentatious success. There are nearly 60 members, one of whom once beat Capablanca in a simultaneous display.’ The same month F.P. Betts of London, Ontario had a letter published on page 204 of the American Chess Bulletin in which he denounced a book by Edward Lasker (unnamed, but presumably Chess and Checkers The Way to Mastership) for using the ‘extraordinary’ algebraic notation. ‘This mania for improving the established chess notation by freak innovations seems to entirely overlook the fact that there is an immense volume of chess literature centuries old in which the old and accepted notation is enshrined, the value of which would be greatly impaired if this novel jargon should become the vogue.’

    One of the last tournaments of the year was a small double-round, four-man event in Berlin on 9-17 December, unexpectedly won by P. Johner of Switzerland ahead of Rubinstein, Teichmann and Mieses. (It was the final tournament of Teichmann’s career, and he died about six months later.) Then, as 1924 drew to a close, it was back to Hastings with, for once, abandonment of the single all-play-all format. Maróczy and Tartakower were to finish equal first, but that news, of course, belongs to 1925.

  • 6 years ago


    Seven Alekhine Articles

    Edward Winter

    alekhine bogoljubow

    During the first part of his world championship match against Bogoljubow in 1929 Alekhine contributed seven articles on the contest to the New York Times. The full texts are given below, and it will be seen that they featured a number of rough edges, in terms of language and in the recording of chess moves. The articles ended after the first eight games, which were all played in Wiesbaden, Germany.

    Article 1/7: New York Times, 8 September 1929, pages 1-2 of the sports section:

    ‘WIESBADEN, Sept. 7. – Setting aside for the moment consideration of the personality of both combatants and the outcome of their meeting, the match for the world’s chess championship, which opened here yesterday, unquestionably constitutes a significant stage in the postwar development of European chess activities.

    For the first time in 20 years – the match between Dr Emanuel Lasker and [Carl] Schlechter was fought in Vienna and Berlin in 1910 – European chess circles have organized a world championship match on European soil. The last two contests for the world’s title, each of which determined a new holder, were decided in Latin America – Havana and Buenos Aires. They contributed to promoting interest in chess in both continents, although Europeans were not given an opportunity to exploit the qualitative outcome of these matches in an equal degree.

    As regards the match in Havana, Dr Lasker, unable to concede José R. Capablanca of Cuba the handicap of climatic conditions which affected him unfavorably, as well as the discrepancy of 20 years in their respective ages, preferred to renounce his title at a point in the match when ten games were yet to be played rather than risk his health in hospitable albeit treacherous Havana. As a result, European interest in the quality of this match was considerably lessened.

    This also in a measure was the case with my match against Capablanca in Buenos Aires in 1927, because the scores of the games reached Europe with considerable delay and were inadequately commented. In addition thereto, the numerous draws affected the public’s sporting interest in the match.

    The games were only superficially examined, and consequently, but unjustly, underestimated, because in both cases most of the drawn games also reflected strenuous headwork and sturdy battles. It must not be forgotten that in a match this question of draws takes on an entirely different aspect than in tournament play. In the face of heavy competition in tournaments it becomes necessary, even when pitted against a strong player, to plan one’s game with the idea of forcing a victory even at the risk of losing. This was well and often illustrated in Nimzowitsch’s play in Carlsbad.

    In championship match play, however, under conditions as they have prevailed up to the present, one must chiefly avoid defeat because three drawn games are less harmful than one losing point. Admitting that games in match play generally seem more monotonous to the public, their scientific importance is greater than that of tournament games.

    Because of their frequent repetitions, the various openings are subjected to practical exploration even down to minutest details, and this process is objectively carried on until a definite and unimpeachable verdict is reached. This can be attested to historically. In the world’s championship matches between Steinitz and Chigorin, the Evans’ Gambit and Two Knights’ Opening were subjected to thorough illumination; Dr Lasker and Dr Tarrasch explored the Rio de Janeiro variation of the Ruy López opening, while Alekhine and Capablanca tackled several important variations of the Queen’s Gambit.

    The match now under way unquestionably also will contribute essentially to amplifying research into the theory of chess, for my opponent rightly ranks as one of the most successful of the modern theorists. His latest publication, The Modern Opening, Pawn to Queen’s 4, won deserved recognition and was not without influence on the treatment of the openings in the recent Carlsbad tournament.

    Despite numerous prospective draws, the match now begun should supply some lively play – much more so than the two previous matches for the title. This is vouchsafed in the strong chess individuality of Bogoljubow, his unrestrained temperament and his fiery optimism. Swept on by these characteristic elements in his make-up, Bogoljubow often plunges into almost foolhardy experiments involving the worst sort of dangers, from which he then succeeds in escaping after the fashion of a somnambulist.

    It is assumed that in the course of the present match he, as challenger, will feel himself morally compelled to adopt violent measures, but in this case he must reckon with a correspondingly aggressive resistance. If the impending games equal our previous tournament games so far as suspense and thrilling play are concerned, the chess circles which were the inspiration of this match will be more than rewarded.

    In connection with such a match where much is at stake for both players, interested onlookers most naturally will carefully scrutinize the fighting methods of both combatants in an effort to discover whose method gives the greater promise of success.

    Experts generally have designated Bogoljubow as a great chess romanticist, and he is the richer of the two players in imagination. I, on the other hand, have been given credit for a more exact execution of tactical ideas. But despite this, and quite rightly so, no great difference in our respective style of play has been recorded.

    I may be permitted to observe the following in this connection: Bogoljubow is four years older than I, but he first entered the international chess arena in 1914, whereas I already had participated in the Hamburg masters’ tournament of 1910. In respect to his interpretation of chess, since the beginning of his career, I have comprehended his fighting individuality better than that of any other master. And yet, Bogoljubow claims that my style of play influenced his chess development for a long period. Granted our interpretation of the essence of chess bears certain resemblances, our conception of life and our attitude toward combat are fundamentally different.

    So far as I have observed him, Bogoljubow, propelled by his unlimited optimism, constantly hopes to discover new forces in the reservoir of his talents for his creative purposes; he views his opponent as a welcome experimental field for the application of his art, and he does not consider it especially essential to make his closer acquaintance.

    Such an interpretation may be impressive, but only to the point where it is coupled with external success, for it supplies the combatant with an illusion that suggests he is capable of attempting miracles; but woe unto him if, through some secondary circumstance, failure sets in. Then a supreme faith in one’s self cannot replace a real knowledge of things. In his subjectivity he scarcely will be able to find the right explanation for such an incident, and he then will lose his self-confidence, which to him is of the greatest importance.

    In Bogoljubow’s case the danger of such negative results of an exaggerated optimism are ameliorated through the intervention of a peculiar psychological quality. Strange to relate, he combines with his Ukrainian sluggishness and incidental stubbornness in pursuit of his aims an industry and zeal for scientific chess which may be due to his extended sojourn in Germany.

    Now, my conception of the fighting aspects of chess, from the very beginning, has been of the opposite nature. I have considered three fundamental prerequisites as absolutely essential to success: Firstly, self-knowledge; secondly, a firm comprehension of my opponent’s strength and weakness; thirdly, a higher aim – one that transcends momentary self-satisfaction. This aim I envisage in artistic and scientific accomplishments which accord our chess equal rank with other arts.

    Now, will these differences in character be decisive for the outcome of this match, or will unexpected circumstances, such as physical exhaustion of lack or endurance, decide the issue? At any rate, the resisting powers and nerves of both combatants are confronted with a severe test, for the match presumably will continue for 2½ months. For the start eight games will be played here, after which the players will recess for one week, during which I shall attend the congress of the World Chess League [sic] in Venice as a delegate for France.

    The next three games will be played in Heidelberg, then six in Berlin, the same number in Holland if the match still is undecided and the final encounters again will be played here.

    As one of the participants in the match, I naturally find it difficult to indulge in a prophecy. As in former matches in which I have competed, I enter this combat with complete faith in myself and hope to retain my title.’

    alekhine bogoljubow

    Alexander Alekhine and Efim Bogoljubow with (in the centre) the FIDE President, Alexander Rueb (1929)

    Article 2/7: New York Times, 9 September 1929, page 23 of the sports section:

    ‘WIESBADEN, Sept. 7 – The first game in the match for the world chess championship was exciting and from the viewpoint of theory it also was notable despite the fact it was a comparatively brief contest.

    Bogoljubow, who had the black pieces, adopted the so-called Russian Defense in answer to the Queen’s Gambit. Among other things, this variation has the purpose of accepting the proffered pawn after due preparation and then abandoning it later in a favorable position after time for the full development of the pieces has been gained.

    This procedure was especially carefully analyzed by Bogoljubow in his last volume and he adopted this style of play in his match with Dr Euwe. However, he deviated from the customary continuation at his fifth move by dispensing with the development of his queen’s bishop, whereby he confronted me with a dilemma.

    I had to decide forthwith whether by advancing my king’s pawn one square I could also acquire a variation of the Queen’s Gambit or whether, by moving it two squares, I could afford to offer a regular gambit. After due deliberation I selected the latter alternative, which leads to positions which have not yet been fully explored.

    After only a few moves it became apparent that the sacrifice of the pawn was more than offset by the offensive advantage obtained. Indeed, I succeeded in organizing an attack similar to that I had obtained in a consultation game played last Spring in the Manhattan Chess Club in New York. The menace in the centre of the board and on the queen’s wing became so acute that Bogoljubow, at his 13th move, had to renounce castling, incidentally exchanging his only fully developed piece. Had he instead moved his queen’s rook, as the spectators expected he would, then my queen’s bishop would have effectively penetrated into the game with a gain of time.

    His game very soon became hopeless due to the weakness of the black squares and his inability to promptly mobilize his queen’s wing. Threatened with the positive loss of a rook he was forced to resign after 26 moves.

    Although the moral effect of this first decision is not to be underestimated, it must not be viewed as possessing a decisive significance in respect to the outcome of the match, for in my match with Capablanca I succeeded, with apparent ease, in deciding the first game in my favor, but the real hard work came later. It also is possible that this will be the case in the present match.’

    Article 3/7: New York Times, 15 September 1929, page 5 of the sports section:

    ‘WIESBADEN, Sept. 14 – After the second and third games of my match with E.D. Bogoljubow had terminated in draws after lively encounters, the fourth game again brought a decision and that in favor of the challenger for my title, who thereby evened the score.

    In this game, as in the second of the series, I used the modern Nimzowitsch variation of defense, but adopted on the sixth [sic] move a different development for my queen’s knight, which logically brought an exchange of king’s bishops [sic], leaving my opponent the advantage of his two bishops.

    For a time it appeared that the player of the white pieces could not make permanent use of this advantage as he was engaged in mobilizing his king’s wing and at the same time meeting the black’s [sic] attempt to breakthrough in the middle of the board. Bogoljubow, however, played in top form and with accurate work he succeeded, on his 16th move, in establishing a position which permitted him to castle with safety on the king’s side by exchanging his queen’s bishop for my knight and subsequently, through advancing his pawn to king’s five, to maintain constant pressure on the queen’s file.

    He selected, however, a more active continuation on his 17th move, which threatened to expose him to danger on his king’s wing. This menace became still more acute when he accepted my sacrifice of a pawn on the 21st move, and it is doubtful whether he could have withstood my attack if, for instance, on my 22nd move I had played knight to queen’s knight three. Instead, I committed a fundamental oversight in this promising position which cost me two pawns, Bogoljubow attending to the rest of the game in keeping with the accepted procedure.

    The challenger was squarely entitled to win this game. My chief error consisted in adopting a less favorable opening variation and one which I rarely play. The result was a protracted study of position in the opening stages at a cost of time, followed by a grave error in a perfectly tenable position.

    The second, third and fourth games of the match, as a matter of fact, demonstrated that Bogoljubow’s strength as compared, for instance, to that of José R. Capablanca, is to be found in the manner in which he builds up his game, whereas in judging the endgame prospects, he is decidedly not the equal of the Cuban master.

    I, therefore, in the future shall have to be on my guard against the sharply pointed opening theoretical weapon of my opponent.’

    Article 4/7: New York Times, 16 September 1929, page 24 of the sports section:

    ‘WIESBADEN, Sept. 15 – After having suffered defeat in the fourth game of my match with E.D. Bogoljubow, it was, of course, highly important that the fifth game should not terminate similarly, for while the loss of a single game can be ascribed by the victim more or less to circumstances, two successive defeats are likely to have a detrimental psychological effect in that a player may lose his self-confidence, a circumstance which might have a decisive bearing on the final outcome of the world’s match.

    Despite these considerations, I decided to adopt, in the fifth game’s opening, the same active variation of the accepted Queen’s Gambit that I had played in the third game in preference to choosing some placid opening which insured a draw.

    In this I was not influenced by the fact that the third game was won for me on the 53rd move through the king taking the knight’s pawn instead of bishop to rook five, but I wanted to effect a reinforcement in position which would allow the black to obtain a simplification of position under highly unfavorable circumstances.

    This departure bishop to knight five on the seventh move netted me an advantage in so far as my opponent, in the belief that he had safely negotiated the hidden reefs in the opening stages and arrived at an exchange of queens on the 16th move, found himself confronted by a difficult endgame problem in that he not only had to find a way of releasing his queen’s bishop, whose isolation was the immediate purpose of my opening variation, but he was also compelled to find usable squares for his knight.

    As matters went, Bogoljubow succeeded in solving the problem fairly well, and despite a slight inferiority in his position he might have obtained a draw had he played pawn to queen’s knight three on his 23rd move, which meant the exchange of his only well placed piece. The move he elected to make permitted me to form an accurately calculated combination which terminated in the decisive sacrifice of a piece, the gain of a pawn and an irresistible pressure of all white pieces.

    The rest of the game suggests a useful demonstration of how such positional advantages are exploited, Black resigning on his 48th move. Taken altogether, this game is considered by me the most important so far played in the match.’

    Article 5/7: New York Times, 18 September 1929, page 25 of the sports section:

    ‘WIESBADEN, Sept. 17 – The sixth game of my championship match with E.D. Bogoljubow resulted in a victory for the challenger, made the honors even again in the championship, and once more the cause of my losing is to be found in my choice of an unfortunate variation as the player of the black pieces.

    This time, however, the defeat was not due to an unsound development of pieces as was the case in the fourth and fifth games, but because a tactical “joker” was overlooked in the course of working out a somewhat complicated variation.

    On the 15th [sic] move, pawn to queen’s knight three, the player of the black pieces overlooked the reinforced counter-move employed in the chief variation which was played on this occasion – that is, after pawn to king’s four on 11th move, knight to king’s sixth cannot be played because of queen to queen’s three on the 12th move. After the retreat of knight to king’s two and the enforced exchange of queens which followed a few moves later, a position resulted which, in view of the existing general weakness of the entire queen’s wing, could not be defended against by accurate play.

    Yet I have the impression that Bogoljubow’s play from then on, although well carried out, nevertheless lacked “absolute exactness” for on the 18th [sic] move it was possible for me, by playing rook to queen’s square and only then knight to bishop’s square, to make it difficult for him to find the path to win.

    After this lapse, which is further indication that as yet I have not been able to get into my real stride in this match, Black had only a few harmless tactical sorties at his disposal, and finally he had to yield to the inevitable.

    The following variation may be noted: 47th move, knight to knight’s 5, rook to knight’s 5, 48th, pawn to rook’s 5, knight to bishop’s four mate.

    Thus, out of six games played, four have ended decisively – an unusually high percentage for a match of this importance and which may be explained on the ground that both players have selected risky variations when handling the black pieces. Perhaps the present pace will let up in the course of the next few games, but in any event, the match promises to become more exciting than was at first generally expected.’

    Article 6/7: New York Times, 20 September 1929, page 25 of the sports section:

    ‘WIESBADEN, Sept. 19 – The seventh game of my match with E.D. Bogoljubow again produced a decisive result – the fourth in succession. Even the most confirmed opponent of the contention that the game of chess is threatened with “death through draws” could not have hoped for such a development in the progress of this match. The more so as the game just decided did not hinge on the victory in the endgame as was the case in the three previous ones. It was a battle full of fire and mutual determination to win.

    It was carried on along strictly tactical lines throughout. The battle began when Bogoljubow, apparently dissatisfied with his previous Slavish defense of the Queen’s Gambit, this time elected to play the King’s Indian development, which enabled him to draw his game with José R. Capablanca in the recent Carlsbad tournament.

    On my fourth move, by playing a pawn to queen’s five I might have prevented the double advance of his queen’s pawn, a stratagem which Rubinstein employed in the Baden-Baden tournament of 1925. However, I preferred to allow the development in the centre of the board in order to have a more free hand later for manoeuvring by offering my queen’s bishop’s pawn sacrifice, which enabled me to collect a menacing formation of pawns in the centre.

    Perhaps the pressure of the white pieces might have been made more promising through a retreat of the knight to king’s bishop three on the 11th move. Because the move of the pawn to the bishop’s five, which suggested interesting complications, enabled Bogoljubow by playing his rook to the queen’s square on his 15th move to evade every possible immediate danger.

    In that case the game might have ended in a draw, if on the 17th move he had played the variation leading to an exchange of queens: Queen to bishop six; 18th queen to queen’s knight’s three, bishop takes queen’s pawn; 19th queen takes queen, [sic– add 19th ... bishop takes queen] 20th queen’s rook to bishop’s square and so forth.

    Apparently overestimating his position, however, he courted a complicated tactical continuation which, while it netted him a pawn in centre, exposed him to a kingside attack which was difficult to counter. In return for the exchange which he lost on the 20th move as a result of this attack, he temporarily won three pawns which, however, partially weakened him because they doubled and which, because of the attack carried on by the white queen, could only be defended with difficulty.

    The rest of the game proceeded with a program in which White was threatening a checkmate and was able to force an exchange of queens and virtually capture all of the opponent’s pawns.

    On the 35th move, Bogoljubow resigned the game, which from start to finish kept spectators under a high tension.’

    Article 7/7: New York Times, 22 September 1929, page 6 of the sports section:

    ‘WIESBADEN, Sept. 21 – The eighth and last game of the first series of tests in the world’s chess championship to be played at Wiesbaden proved to be a sharp and lively contest.

    As the player of the black pieces, I, this time, decided in favor of an immediate development of my queen’s bishop, but achieved only a half satisfactory result inasmuch as the pawn formation adopted in the centre by E.D. Bogoljubow, the challenger for my title, in the fourth and sixth games – P-KB3 and P-K4 – again seemed to serve his purpose. Indeed, the preponderance of White in the centre threatened to become so menacing that I decided, for the time being, to dispense with castling, which would have exposed my king to direct attack.

    I therefore initiated a demonstration on the queen’s wing, beginning with P-B4. In my opinion Bogoljubow should have countered this sortie with P-K5, which would have netted him a promising game. His move, B-Kt2, was a bit passive and as a result he soon was confronted with grave decisions.

    In order to prevent Black’s attempt to gain elbow room, PxP PxP P-K4 etc., he elected to play, on his 13th move, P-KB4, which immediately changed the entire constellation on the centre of the board.

    His move enabled Black to initiate an interesting king-side attack by advancing his rook’s pawn. Perhaps White might have withstood this attack a bit longer if he had played bishop to queen’s bishop’s square on his 17th move, whereupon Black probably would not have castled on the queen’s side, which otherwise suggested a safe undertaking.

    After Q-K4 [sic – Q-Kt4] on his 17th move, he only had a choice between several evils during the remainder of the game.

    The score now is four to two, a result which was reached in my match with José R. Capablanca only after the 21st game. If the present championship match also would call for only six victories one might possibly count on a relatively early termination, but it requires the absolute majority of 30 games, that is 15½ points, counting drawns [sic]. It may therefore be assumed that only about one-third of the match thus far has been carried out.

    The ninth game will be played in Heidelberg Oct. 3.’

    Note: These texts were presented in C.N.s 1365, 1420, 1451, 1485 and 1511.

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